How to Make Your Event More Culturally Relevant

It’s not easy coming up with new ideas, themes and topics for industry events that will stand out and separate yours from the pack. Sometimes it’s necessary to get help from timely pop culture that you can tie into the occasion and make it more memorable for attendees. The next time you’re stumped on how to make your event more culturally relevant, try a few of these tips.

Find out what people are talking about NOW: It doesn’t matter what market sector you call home; there’s a trending topic that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue. There’s most certainly a new blockbuster movie, a popular TV series, or musical style that’s getting everyone excited; you might even seize on a celebrity scandal or Internet meme. If it’s generating buzz and it’s something you can build an event around, it’s fair game as a culturally relevant theme you can bring to the table.

Stick with logical references and associations: You need to make some logical connection between the pop culture reference and the message you want to convey at your event. If you’re reaching too far to unite a theme and your central topic, the association is likely to be lost. Still, feel free to be creative about spinning your event around some trending news byte. Many attendees will appreciate the twist, even if it’s tongue in cheek.

Make sure your pop culture theme isn’t a flash in the pan: When you’re planning an event, the initial phases – where you typically pick a thematic approach – are handled far in advance. The popular, trending topic you decide to build the occasion around may have fizzled out long before kick- off arrives. Your theme must be able to stand the test of time. You should also ensure that the pop culture reference can withstand various marketing channels, including email, direct mail, blog content and social media chatter.

Keep it light and non-controversial: Under no circumstances should you develop a professional event around a cultural topic that inspires contempt among attendees or pits them against other colleagues. Steer clear of politics, religion and other controversial topics. The sentiment you want to convey is unity, not division; pick a culturally relevant theme that’s fun, yet neutral.

Use seasonally relevant references sparingly: Even if you host an event every year the weekend before Halloween, going with the too-obvious seasonal approach gets weary over time. There are only so many ways you can employ these themes before they become tacky and tedious. You can be effective in using seasonally relevant references, however, if you throw in a twist. If your event typically takes place over the summer, focus on a different warm weather sport or activity to bring freshness to each year.

Is there any special tactic you use when you want your event to tie into timely, relevant pop culture?

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing


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